NFL Players Protest by Kneeling and Linking Arms

During the third week of the NFL season many players from all teams began to peacefully protest against our President, Donald Trump, as he criticized the players who chose to kneel or link arms during the national anthem.

AJ Freithoffer, Managing Editor, Sports Editor

The players, coaches, and owners of NFL teams have been silently protesting racial discrimination during the national anthem. Donald Trump has publicly attacked the players and stated on Twitter that “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our great American Flag (or country) and should stand for the national anthem.” Many of the players are doing it because they want to raise awareness about respecting people’s race and acknowledging that they can’t change what they look like. For other players on these teams, they link arms or kneel along with their teammates to signify a united front. Donald Trump is starting to attack these players on social media; to be more specific, he is attacking them on Twitter.  After his tweet was sent out, more and more players started to kneel, even players that weren’t kneeling before.

The idea of kneeling during the national anthem began with Colin Kaepernick before his game against the Arizona Cardinals last season. In a later interview, he admitted to doing this because he was upset about police brutality towards black people. The symbolism of kneeling has gone from representing black power to being a symbol of unity and togetherness. The players are not alone in this protest though. Coaches and managers are also doing this with their team. For example, Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who was in fact a former Trump supporter, is also now starting to kneel and link arms with his players.

Although many have chosen to protest, some have decided to stay standing and continue to participate in the national anthem. One of these players is Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva, who was a captain in the United States Army before becoming a professional football player. During their game against the Baltimore Ravens he was the only player from the Steelers to come out of the locker room and put his hand of his heart during the national anthem. Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, has also chosen to participate, but rather than stand on his own, he linked arms with teammate and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, while putting his hand over his heart.  On the flipside, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy continued to warm up during the national anthem and did not acknowledge it.

Alexa Hernandez,  freshman, gave her opinion on the matter, saying  “I think that there is nothing wrong with these players protesting, given that it is our constitutional right to peaceful protest and there is no harm being done to others. The issues they are kneeling for [are] very real issues we have in America today, such as police brutality and racial profiling. Therefore it is something I fully support. I feel that it is great that they are using their platform to raise awareness so that we can make a change happen.” Dominic Affuso, who is also a freshman, answered to the same question, saying, “Yes, I agree with what the football players are doing. They’re exercising their first amendment [rights]. Even if some people don’t think how they’re addressing the issue is right, they’re still combating racism and political differences.” Both students had essentially the same opinions on the situation.

The NFL players are continuing to protest during the national anthem and nobody knows when it will end. With backlash rising from each side, football players and their supporters continue to engage in debate or action in this form of protest. Football will continue to be played for the foreseeable future, but the pregame activities are rapidly changing to adapt to a modern, potentially outspoken America.